The Herald, Sharon, PA Published Saturday, November 4, 2000


New church in an old building
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Jesusí Church sets 1st service
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By Joe Pinchot
Herald Staff Writer

Starting Sunday, Jesusí Church -- Faith Christian Center Ministries will end 10 months of operating under the good graces of other churches.

A service will be at 6 p.m. at the former Grace Lutheran Church, 901 Fruit Ave., Farrell. Jesusí Church bought the Grace Lutheran property, which includes an attached educational wing, from the Lutheran Synod of Northwest Pennsylvania.

Grace Lutheran dissolved in April.

"This Sunday night we are open to the public," said the Rev. Ralph T. Newell, who is pastor of Jesusí Church with his wife, the Rev. JoAnn Newell.

Jesusí Church is a non-denominational full gospel church, not affiliated with other full gospel churches, he said. It began Jan. 1 and was incorporated Oct. 1.

Rev. Newell said he and his wife left the African Methodist Episcopal ministry a year ago.

"God has been moving in our spirit to localize our ministry," he said. "In AME, you are moved around from territory to territory."

The church members have worshipped Sunday evenings in Living Word Church of Brookfield through May, and from then through September at Joy of The Lord Ministry, Farrell.

Jesusí Church will strive to "win souls" to Christ and to bring together Christian people of all races and economic situations. Its mission is to help Christian believers become more effective in their lives, their faith and their communities.

The church has eight members and Rev. Ralph Newell admitted it has been difficult attracting people to a storefront building at 712 Broadway, the home of Joy of The Lord Ministry.

"That, I do believe, will grow now that we are open to the public," he said of membership.

The building will not only be used as a place for worship. The Newells plan to reach out to people who abuse drugs and alcohol and try to help stabilize the lives of inmates and criminal offenders and their families.

Rev. Ralph Newell works for Mercer County as employment coordinator/pastoral services counselor at the Mercer County Jail. Rev. JoAnn Newell is a community worker for the Neighborhood-Based Family Intervention Center, where she works with juvenile offenders.

The Newells will hold workshops on spiritual drama and dance and faith issues, and seminars for married couples, singles, men, women and children.

Other organizations looking to offer similar types of programs also will be invited to use the building, he said.

Minority Health Advocacy Committee of Sharon Regional Health System and the affiliated Endorse Resistance of All Substance Abuse Everywhere will be moving into the educational wing Nov. 21.

Olive Brown of Minority Health and ERASE said she had been looking into renting the educational wing before Jesusí Church bought the building.

"This is the target area for all that we are doing," Ms. Brown said.

Through ERASEís efforts, the Beginning Neighborhood Association was formed to try to improve the area around where the church is located.

The church is on the southern edge of what is called a "no-fly zone."

Because of the areaís problem with drugs and crime, Mercer County Common Pleas Court judges often forbid people on probation or parole or who have been given nonprison sentences through the Intermediate Punishment Program and Accelerated Rehabilitative Disposition to stay out of the area.

Offenders who are seen in the no-fly zone violate the conditions of their sentences and can be additionally punished by the court.

Rev. Newell said he plans to ask the judges to allow offenders to come up Federal Street and Union Avenue and into the church for worship and workshops without violating their probation.

"I see it just as they would go to a grocery store or somewhere else as a necessity," he said. "I see the church as a necessity."

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